Who doesn’t love freshly picked strawberries? They are not only tasteful, but generally considered healthy.
Does that mean that strawberries are safe for your rats, too? How many strawberries should a rat eat?
While not technically a berry, strawberries boast many positive effects on your rats’ health. Rats generally tend to love them! Too much of a good thing can cause problems, though, such as diarrhea.
Keep reading below to find out how many strawberries your rat can eat, and how to prepare it for them.
Rats & Strawberries
Are Berries Safe for Rats?
Berries are safe and healthy for rats.
Strawberries, however, are not technically berries – even though their name is misleading. They are actually an “aggregate accessory fruit”, as their fleshy bit is not derived from the plant’s ovaries1. Instead, every apparent “seed” on the strawberry is actually one of the ovaries of the plant, with a seed hidden inside it.
Regardless, strawberries offer many of the health benefits that other berries (for instance, blueberries) do. They have anti-inflammatory properties and can reduce the insulin response after a meal2.
Strawberry juices have also been shown to inhibit cell transformation, meaning that they can help prevent the development of tumors3. Another study showed that consumption of strawberries and other berries had positive effects on blood pressure and cholesterol levels4.
Strawberries are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber5. Furthermore, they contain phenols, tannins, and flavonoids – all of which are known for their anti-inflammatory and health-promoting properties.
As many of the studies performed on the positive effects of strawberry consumption were done on rats, we know that strawberries are good for rats, too.
Strawberries are safe and healthy for rats to eat. They are quite low in sugar compared to other fruits, making them a good choice of snack also for overweight rats6. As they contain lots of water and fiber, they may cause diarrhea when consumed in large amounts.
How Many Strawberries Can a Rat Eat?
You can offer your rats one strawberry each. Strawberries can be offered as part of your rat’s fresh food daily portion or as a treat. You can cut them in bite-sized pieces or offer them whole (especially smaller strawberries).
Strawberries should be washed thoroughly before feeding.
Since strawberries continue to lead the “dirty dozen” list of pesticide-laden foods7, it’s best to buy organic strawberries. If these are not available to you, make sure to wash the strawberries multiple times before feeding them to your rats.
Can Rats Eat the Tops of Strawberries?
Strawberry leaves are not only safe, but also healthy for rats and humans alike. A study on diabetic rats with kidney issues showed that feeding them strawberry leaves had a positive effect on their disease progression8.
Strawberry leaf consumption has also been linked to improved cardiovascular health9.
Therefore, there is no reason to cut off the green strawberry tops – if you don’t like to eat them, your rats will happily take them instead!
You can offer your rats frozen strawberries. They can be thawed first or offered frozen on a hot day. Your rats will love these healthy “strawberry popsicles”.
Another fun idea for hot weather is to have your rats fish for frozen strawberries in a bowl of water.
Can Rats Eat Strawberry Yogurt?
Store-bought strawberry yogurt is usually high in sugar and should not be fed to rats. You can offer your mischief some sugar-free yogurt without any flavor and mix in the strawberries yourself. This makes a popular ratty treat! Steer clear of artificial sweeteners in the yogurt, though.
What Fruits Can Rats Not Eat?
Strawberries are not the only fruits that rats love. Most other fruits tend to be high in sugar, though, and should not be fed too often.
Some fruits should not be fed to rats at all, as they can be toxic. These include avocado skin and pits, as well as the skin of mangos and citrus fruits. Unripe bananas should be avoided, too.
Always take a couple of minutes to research any new food that you want to feed your rats, to ensure that it is safe for them.
To Sum Up
Strawberries are not only super healthy, but also delicious to your rats! One or two strawberries per rat per day is enough – more than that can cause diarrhea. Frozen strawberries are also a great option in hot climates.
1. Esau K. Anatomy of seed plants. John Wiley and Sons, New York 1977.
2. Edirisinghe I, Banaszewski K, Cappozzo J, et al. Strawberry anthocyanin and its association with postprandial inflammation and insulin. Br J Nutr 2011;106:913-922. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21736853/.
3. Xue H, Aziz RM, Sun N, et al. Inhibition of cellular transformation by berry extracts. Carcinogenesis 2001;22:351-356. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11181460/.
4. Erlund I, Koli R, Alfthan G, et al. Favorable effects of berry consumption on platelet function, blood pressure, and HDL cholesterol. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2008;87:323-331. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/87.2.323.
5. Baby B, Antony P, Vijayan R. Antioxidant and anticancer properties of berries. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2018;58:2491-2507. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28609132/.
6. Chiavaroli L, Lee D, Ahmed A, et al. Effect of low glycaemic index or load dietary patterns on glycaemic control and cardiometabolic risk factors in diabetes: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Bmj 2021;374:n1651. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34348965/.
7. EWG. Dirty Dozen – EWG’s 2021 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. 2021. https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php.
8. Ibrahim DS, Abd El-Maksoud MA. Effect of strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa) leaf extract on diabetic nephropathy in rats. Int J Exp Pathol 2015;96:87-93. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25645466/.
9. Mudnic I, Modun D, Brizic I, et al. Cardiovascular effects in vitro of aqueous extract of wild strawberry (Fragaria vesca, L.) leaves. Phytomedicine 2009;16:462-469. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0944711308002171.
Nina has a degree from the Veterinary School in Zurich, with a special focus on microbiological research. Nina has a passion for sports, nutrition and the outdoors and she loves all pets, but rats have a special place in her heart. When she’s not working or reading and writing about all things related to pet health, she loves to travel and surf.
As a small animal veterinarian, Nina is your go-to expert on pet health and nutrition.